Leading Authority in Treatment of Narcissism and Emotional Abuse

Avoiding Conflict in a Relationship

What is the Cost of Avoiding Conflict in a Relationship?

Victims of abusive relationships typically develop codependent tendencies due to the manipulative and narcissistic behaviors of their partners. The damage to their self-worth alters their perception of what a genuine relationship is. They tend to ignore red flags and become preoccupied with avoiding conflict in a relationship, putting their need to be needed and liked by the other person above themselves.

In healthy relationships, partners ideally create a space for collaborative growth and compromise. In abusive relationships, the priority is often to preserve illusions of peace and harmony.

What is the Cost of Avoiding Conflict in a Relationship?

In the world of relationships, the idea of “keeping the peace” is often lauded as a virtue. We are told not to rock the boat, to maintain harmony, and to avoid conflicts at all costs. But is this approach always the right one? In this article, we will delve into the concept of avoiding conflict in relationships and explore whether it is truly virtuous or if there might be hidden costs associated with this approach.

Keeping the Peace is Always a Virtue – Right?

Dr. David Hawkins, the director of the Marriage Recovery Center, specializes in helping individuals dealing with narcissistic and emotional abuse. He raises an important question: is keeping the peace an inherently virtuous act, or is it sometimes driven by fear and avoidance?

The Motivation Behind “Keeping the Peace”

Dr. Hawkins urges us to introspect and examine the motivation behind our desire to keep the peace. Do we genuinely believe it’s the right thing to do in a given situation, or are our actions guided by the fear of confrontation and conflict? Many of us can relate to the discomfort of facing conflict, but it’s essential to distinguish between genuinely virtuous actions and those driven by fear.

Fear-Driven Peacekeeping and Codependence

One insightful perspective on this issue is the concept of codependence. Codependence can be defined as seeing a weakness in another person and either ignoring or avoiding it, thereby enabling and reinforcing it. While we don’t cause these weaknesses in others, we might contribute to their persistence by avoiding confrontation and difficult conversations.

Enabling Dysfunction and Weakness

By not addressing issues and avoiding conflict, we may inadvertently enable dysfunction and weakness in those we care about. While our intentions might be to maintain harmony, we could be inadvertently perpetuating the very problems we wish to avoid. It’s crucial to recognize our role in this dynamic.

The High Cost of Avoiding Conflict in a Relationship

The next time we find ourselves tempted to sidestep conflict, we should consider the high cost of doing so. This cost extends not only to the individuals we enable but also to ourselves. Avoiding conflict may prevent personal growth and hinder the development of healthier relationships.

Facing Conflict and Personal Growth

Dr. Hawkins reminds us that facing conflict and dealing with challenging issues is undeniably difficult. However, it is equally important for our personal growth and the betterment of our relationships. By confronting issues head-on, we can break free from fear-driven peacekeeping and genuinely work towards resolving problems.


While maintaining peace and harmony in relationships is undoubtedly important, we must be cautious not to confuse this with avoiding conflict at all costs. True virtue lies in addressing issues with conviction, not in fear-driven peacekeeping. By recognizing the potential costs of avoiding conflict and challenging ourselves to grow, we can foster healthier and more authentic relationships. Ultimately, it’s a path that may be difficult to tread, but it is one that can lead to more fulfilling and resilient connections with others.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: When the Victim Becomes the Abuser

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


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